Dramatic engagement photos with men and women kissing flood my Facebook feed. Hundreds of “likes” abound. The Bachelor promotes dating 25 people at the same time. Then a celebratory kiss between two men in a relationship broadcasts on ESPN. Hold up! We aren’t ready for this kind of PDA.
The post-Rams phone call embrace between former MU athletes Michael Sam and his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, was an emotional moment for the Columbia community and all his supporters. The interracial, homosexual intimacy also evoked outright bigotry. But a subtler criticism emerged from some commentators, who claimed they would rather not witness such “discomforting” affection, even though they supported Sam otherwise. We can learn a lot about our deeply rooted biases and beliefs from these responses.
The fight for gay rights keeps gaining momentum: Arkansas just became the first former Confederate state to start granting same-sex marriage licenses. Yet a total shift in thinking will be slow. This week’s reaction shows that overcoming the discomfort of outward physical intimacy is one of the major hurdles we face in advancing from tolerance of homosexuality to true acceptance.
Who knows, maybe someday we’ll see a few trophy Vitos cheering from the 50-yard line amidst the WAGs. Sam’s done everything he could to pave the way. And wherever he ends up, if Sam makes the cut, let’s just say I might have a favorite NFL team this year. Fingers crossed, one Tiger to another.